India has strongly dismissed Pakistan’s raising of the Jammu and Kashmir issue at multiple fora in the UN, asserting that the references are “totally out of context” and constitute a “clear interference” in its internal affairs.
India also asserted that Kashmir is, has always been and will remain an integral part of India.
In one of the Right of Replies exercised by India to respond to comments by Pakistan’s envoy to the UN, First Secretary in the Indian Mission to the UN Abhishek Singh suggested that Pakistan should refrain from using the Right of Reply and instead “use the right of introspection” to think about the direction in which the country is moving.
Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN Maleeha Lodhi first raised the issue of Kashmir during a UN General Assembly
plenary session on the Report of the Secretary General on the Work of the Organisation.
She said that consultations with Kashmiris, who are an integral part of the Kashmir dispute, are essential to evolving such a peaceful solution to the dispute.
“Calling for the termination of these consultations, as a precondition for dialogue, is unacceptable as well as
counterproductive,” she said in a reference to India.
Exercising the Right of Reply, Singh asserted that Kashmir is, has always been and will remain an integral part
“It is all the more ironical that these comments come from a country which is persisting with its illegal occupation of part of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir,” Singh said.
Rejecting Lodhi’s remarks on Kashmir in its entirety, Singh said the references by Pakistan are “totally out of context and constitute a clear interference in the internal affairs of India.”
Singh also expressed “deep regret” that Pakistan has violated the ceasefire on a number of occasions in the past several weeks leading to loss of civilian lives on the Indian side.
The Indian armed forces and para-military forces have responded to these “provocations”, he said.
Following Lodhi’s speech, India’s envoy to the UN Asoke Mukerji said in his remarks that “it is most unfortunate” that the Pakistani envoy has chosen to refer to issues that are “extraneous to the debate that we are having today”.
“We have diplomatic relations with Pakistan and such issues should be addressed in the framework of these relations, instead of being aired elsewhere,” he said.
Alluding to the four-point peace initiative announced by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his address to the UN General Assembly, Lodhi said the proposal “should have evoked a positive response from India. But this has not been forthcoming. Nevertheless, Pakistan stands ready to engage in a dialogue on all outstanding issues.”
Singh, quoting from External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s address to the UNGA last month, said India does not
need four points but “just one — give up terrorism and let us sit down and talk.”
Lodhi said the “urgency of peacefully settling this dispute is even more compelling today.” Escalating tensions on the Line of Control in Kashmir and the Working Boundary also require Pakistan and India to take all possible measures to avert further escalation.
Pakistan also exercised its Right of Reply to respond to Singh’s comments.
Siama Sayed, counsellor at the Pakistan Mission, blamed India for stalling the dialogue process by canceling talks
scheduled between the two countries.
“I want to remind that it was not Pakistan which stalled the dialogue process. It was India which cancelled the Foreign Secretary level talks with Pakistan scheduled for last year,” she said.
She claimed that Pakistan itself is the biggest victim of terrorism planted on its soil, “some of it emanating from our immediate neighbourhood.”
“India’s insistence on limiting the talks to a one point agenda proved that it is neither interested or serious in engaging in a genuine dialogue. Using the theme of terrorism, India has not only stalled the bilateral dialogue but also vitiated the overall atmosphere between the two countries,” she alleged.
Later Lodhi, participating in a Fourth Committee meeting of the General Assembly on decolonisation, again raked up the Kashmir issue.
She said the decolonisation agenda of the UN would remain “incomplete and unfinished” without a solution to the Kashmir dispute and that the Kashmir dispute remains unresolved and UNSC resolutions remain unimplemented.
“This surely is the most persistent failure of the United Nations,” she said adding that the world body has a historic responsibility in this regard. Singh, again exercising the Right of Reply, said it is “regrettable” that Pakistan again made a reference to Jammu and Kashmir.
“We reject in entirety the untenable comments” made by Pakistan, the “references to Jammu and Kashmir in them being completely irrelevant to the work of this committee,” he said.
Singh stressed that the people of Jammu and Kashmir have and continue to choose their destiny peacefully in accordance with universally accepted democratic principles and practices.
“Democracy in Jammu and Kashmir has enabled the people of the state to freely express their wishes and elect their representatives. These elections have been held under the scrutiny of the international media and opinion which has not faulted the electoral process,” he said, reiterating that Jammu and Kashmir is and will remain an integral part of India.
Pakistan responded by claiming that Kashmir is not an integral part of India.
“No electoral exercise conducted by Indian authorities in Jammu and Kashmir can substitute a free and impartial plebiscite,” Sayed said.
She said UNSC resolutions on Kashmir were accepted by India and Pakistan and “binding on both”.
Responding to her comments, Singh said, “we would like to advice Pakistan to refrain from using the Right of Reply and instead use the right of introspection to think about the direction in which their country is moving”.
“Needless to say that does not require” the time of the UN and its members, he said.
The Pakistani representative, caught a little off guard, said she regrets that “India has made inappropriate assertions about retrospection about the situation in Pakistan.”
“Despite provocation we would not like to comment on other insurgencies taking part in India regarding their
introspection,” she said.
She added that the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir cannot be cast aside by empty rhetoric and “it has been and will always be on the top of any agenda between India and Pakistan.”
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